Monthly Archives: November 2015

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Church Discipline

That’s a phrase that will instill dread into the heart of the most seasoned pastor or church leader.

There are good reasons and bad reasons for this.

The Good Reason is that it means a church member whom you love has become snared in serious and unrepentant sin. This rightly grieves the soul.

The Bad Reason is that the actions church discipline requires are not only unpleasant, they are explosive!

Some people think you are being too hard, some people think you are being too easy. The pastor and church leader who is trying to be faithful to the commands of God’s Word ends up being attacked as if they are the guilty party.

At Greentree, we take church discipline serious, because the alternative is to disobey God and fail our church family – including the guilty person.

Over the years there have been a couple times I have had to ask a church member to forgive me because I did not confront their sinful behavior out of my own fear. I had failed to be a faithful pastor to them.

Church discipline is a process we approach slowly with an abundance of prayer and conversation. We try to give time for grace and the Holy Spirit to work, but eventually if repentance doesn’t come forth, we have to move in. The entire process is heart wrenching for us; from the moment we become aware of the sin, through all of the conversations, prayers and actions.

Jonathan Leeman wrote this article entitled “22 Mistakes Pastors Make in Practicing Church Discipline”. The article is not as long as it sounds. The items are in list form.

Although the article is geared for pastors, I think it is good for all church members to read. It will help you understand how to support your pastors and be a healthy influence in your church. And if necessary, you will understand what accountability your pastors may need from you.

Leeman’s article is also beneficial for all of us as we take biblical community seriously, which means we cannot run when uncomfortable situations arise. Rather we are called to stick it out through joy and sorrow with those God has knit us to in the body of Christ.

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”   Ephesians 4:15-16

OUR TRUE THANKSGIVING MEAL

Communion-Cross-with-Jesus

 

By all means, enjoy whatever bountiful meal is placed before you on Thanksgiving. God who provides all good things, delights in our enjoyment of them!

However, may all who are in Christ be mindful that our true THANKSGIVING meal is the Lord’s Supper.

 

PET PEEVES

 

We all have pet peeves, here are some of mine

 

Coffee served in Styrofoam cups
Once Dunkin Donuts switched from mugs to Styrofoam I never went back (so some pet peeves are good for us)

People who talk in movie theaters
When they sing it’s even worse

The phrase “Each and every”
Each is every

The New York Jets
Actually any professional sports team from New York City qualifies

30 second ads on YouTube
I understand you need to make money, but 30 seconds is too long when I desire immediacy

When people pass you on the interstate and then slow down once they are in front of you
Grrrrrr

Size 0 and minus sizes in women’s clothing
That’s impossible

Kids standing at bus stops in winter without a coat in order to look cool
You have several coats at home and you’re freezing – that’s just stupid

When software programs ask if you have read and agree to their ‘Terms of Service Agreement’
47 pages of small print legalese, are you serious?

When people post 30 tweets at one time
That’s just annoying

 

Well, God also has pet peeves

Whenever we know what his Word says, and then disregard it

 

A “FOLLOW ME” FOLLOW UP

Our theme for World Outreach Weekend this year was “Follow Me”.

I hope your heart has been instructed, encouraged and challenged by something you heard in one of our events.

I want to thank Pastor Pat Tedeschi for his labors and heart in organizing this weekend. 

As we move forward in living on mission for Christ it is important that we are prayerful and that we take concrete steps.

Pat suggested that I post this article from the Gospel Coalition by Mack Stiles entitled “What If I Am Not A Gifted Evangelist?”. I hope you will take a few minutes to read through and find godly wisdom for the great privilege we have to represent the gospel in a world where every person we meet is eternally desperate to hear and own it.

 

WISDOM TO STAY UNITED

divided-church

Have you ever disagreed with something done by the leadership of your church?

If you have attended Greentree Church for more than a few weeks, we have probably done something that you questioned, didn’t understand, didn’t like or simply left you scratching your head!

Even though we love our church and we try to be serious about being biblically directed, as leaders we remain flawed and insufficient instruments.

Even when we are acting with correct wisdom, that doesn’t guarantee that every church member is processing their reactions with biblical wisdom.

The church is a gathering of “saints”, but we are all flawed in what we do and how we respond.

For these reasons it is important that in Greentree and every other church, we have a biblical perspective for how to handle questions, conflicts and honest concerns.

Fortunately God “remembers that we are dust”. He gives us grace to work through the struggles we have with one another.

A helpful place to find wisdom for ourselves and life with one another is the Old Testament book of Proverbs.

David Murray offers what he calls two “church transforming” proverbs in this article from the Head, Heart, Hand Blog.

Since we will struggle with one another, it is a wise to know the wisdom God has provided precisely for those moments

GRUMBLE FREE

Phil 2,14

by Debbie Huber

 

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vainPhilippians 2:13-16a

My growth group recently dealt with the question, “Is it feasible to be able to never grumble?” We all chuckled and quickly answered, “No!” Sure does not feel like it is possible, at least in our own strength. We all realize that we can grumble about so many little things we do not even think twice about. Things like the weather, the slow person in the grocery line ahead of you, the service at a restaurant, the coworker who doesn’t seem to be pulling her weight, and the list goes on.

But Paul in Philippians instructs us to do ALL things without grumbling. Then he goes on to say, “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation”. How can we be blameless and innocent in this area? It is not in our own strength. The Bible tells us it is God who works in us to accomplish this for His good pleasure. He supernaturally enables us to refrain from grumbling. “Holding fast to the word of life” keeps us focused on Christ and not how we are affected by circumstances.

Why does it matter if we grumble a little? Everyone complains about the weather, the traffic, etc. Is there a day that goes by where you do not hear anyone grumbling about anything? It is probably rare.

If we live a “grumble-free” life, we will shine a light in a dark world filled with lots of grumbling. It is not so the crooked and twisted world will think that we are great but that they will know that Christ is great.

 

FOLLOW ME

Follow Me - for Kyle

 

Our Mission Conference is moving to a new time of year.

Due to snow and ice occasionally interfering with Mission Conference events, it will now be held in November.

Out conference theme this year is “Follow Me” and will take place November 19th-22nd.

The purpose of our Mission Conference is to educate and challenge our hearts in regard to being Great Commission people.

Everyone is welcome, but we especially ask that those who are part of Greentree Church would attend at least one event beyond you normal attendance routine.

Please be praying that God will use this time richly in the life of our church.

 

Thursday, Nov 19th

Women’s Bible Study   9:30 – 11:00 am

Featuring a Skype call with our mission partner in Central Asia

Friday, Nov 20th

Youth Night   6:30 – 10:00 pm

Dinner provided

 Movie Night    7:00 – 9:30 pm

An episode of Dispatches from the Front:

“Father Give Me Bread” Advancing the Gospel in Ethiopia & Sudan

Saturday, Nov 21st

 Seminar & Breakfast   8:30 – 11:00 am

Reaching the Unreached at Home:

Making everyday Gospel Connections

Featuring special guest Peter Eck, Assistant Pastor of New City Fellowship of Atlantic City. Continental Breakfast provided

Sunday, Nov 22nd

Pastor Pat Tedeschi Preaching  8:30 & 10:30 am

 International Potluck & Prayer   6:00 – 8:00 pm

Come enjoy a meal together & pray for our missionaries and outreach around the world. Bring a dish to share – make it international if you like!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.16.15

Life Together

Acts 2:42-47

This passage has much to teach us about being the Church. We will examine five 5 dominant themes concerning “Life Together”

 

1. Commitment to the Disciplines of Being Mature Disciples (v42)

We usually think of spiritual disciplines on a personal level such as Bible reading and prayer

These are vital, but those listed here are corporate disciplines that the church was “devoted” to

(1) The members were under the Apostle’s teaching

They were being ‘equipped’ as we saw last week in Ephesians 4:11-14

When the whole body is hearing together the teaching becomes shared truths

The members help each other remember them, dig into them and apply them

(2) The members were committed to “the” fellowship

The context is that it was the fellowship of worship gatherings

The entire experience that takes place when gathered is deepened

We easily experience this in worship, yet the reality is that the Holy Spirit is doing this in all aspects of our gathering

(3) The members were committed to breaking bread (Lord’s Supper)

The Lord’s Supper is primarily a corporate celebration

It helps us affirm Ephesians 4, which tells us we have “one body . . one hope . . one Lord, one faith”

(4) The members were committed to “the” prayers

This again is describing organized times of prayers

Prayer affirms that we are dependent on the Holy Spirit

Prayer “together” helps us to keep focused on Christ’s agenda rather than to our many agenda’s

In these disciplines, we see that the church was led by the Holy Spirit, who was devoted to growing them in the context of community

 

2. They Experienced Wonder Over the Greatness of God (v43)

The realities of our life in Christ are the same regardless of how we feel, but when we have a sense of God, we are better at being steadfast

Awe of God also encourages us to push forward in our mission

Satan continually attacks our perspective about God

Biblical Community reinforces our sense of God, because He is displayed in it

We experience the blessing of the Holy Spirit working through each other’s gifting

We see God’s activity in one another (v43 the apostles works)
And we have it affirmed in us from others

3. They Cared for One Another (vs 44-45)

This was far from casual or mere friendly church engagement

The members of the body were taking responsibility for their role

The care given was what people could do, for those they could serve

People gave intentionally from what they had, rather than from their leftovers

We have different gifts and resources, but we should share a similar commitment

What would be the quality of care at your church if everyone had your involvement?

How effective would the ministry of your church be if everyone served like you?

How well could your church go forward if everyone had your approach to generosity?

4. They Shared Life Together (v46)

They were together in worship (the Temple) and in their ‘homes’

They shared time and life together

We don’t necessarily need to do new things to be together, we can try to be together in what we already do

Christ whom they served, had brought them together in his kingdom

Fellow church members are not part of a life segment, like the circle of friends we know in our kid’s soccer league

The church is our ‘forever family’; these are the closest human connections we will ever have

Biblical community is community based on biblical characterlove, patience, forgiveness, humility, gentleness and reconciliation

However, biblical community is also something much deeper and amazing

Biblical community is part of the supernatural union we have in Christ (John 17:20-23)

What Jesus prayed is beyond our comprehension, and our present experience

But we must get this – because it is God’s mission for us

This realization should radically affect how we approach church life

It should affect our commitment to this body that the Holy Spirit wonderfully formed us into

It should affect our unity which overshadows the fact that we will disagree and fail each other

 

5. The Result is That This Church Had An Impact (v47)

The context of v47 is that God used all we read in vs 42-46 to bring rich fruit

People were forever changed and God was eternally pleased

Let’s seek to become the church Christ made us to be

THE MAYONNAISE JAR

I posted this article a few years ago ago after someone in our church gave me a clipping of the following story. It is a simple reminder worth reading again.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, health, friends and favorite passions.  Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.  The sand is everything else – the small stuff,” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. . .” he told them.

“So . . . pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Worship with your family. Play with your children.  Spend time with good friends.  There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

TRUE WORSHIPPERS

 

Some time ago when I was having lunch with a pastor friend, we agreed that few people bring blessing to our lives as frequently as Bob Kauflin.

Bob is not only a friend; he is the Director of Sovereign Grace Music. I don’t pass through many days when God doesn’t use Bob to touch my heart through his music ministry.

Earlier this year Bob wrote “True Worshipers: Seeing What Matters to God”. It is a book I urge you to read. Worship is a subject dear to my heart and Bob once again has provided us with a healthy and satisfying meal.

Bob’s writing whether in song or prose, is full of theological depth and pastoral care. In True Worshipers, you will receive biblical rooting and wonderfully practical guidance.

Reading Bob’s latest book will encourage you to grow as a worshiper, whether it is how you walk through your day or participate in a church service.

This is not just my opinion; here are comments from music artists, theologians and pastors:

“Bob Kauflin is a good friend who is always quick to encourage all that is good about writing, singing, and living the gospel. We encourage you to read anything he writes!”
—Keith and Kristyn Getty

“Brilliant. Freeing. Needed. Worship is often limited to the walls of the church. In True Worshipers, Bob Kauflin reminds us that worship isn’t a Sunday morning routine but rather an everyday lifestyle.”
—Louie Giglio, Pastor, Passion City Church

“Bob Kauflin presents a balanced, mature, biblical understanding of worship. He is concerned above all for the heart—for the depth and authenticity of our relationship with God—which so often gets lost in the controversies over styles and traditions. I profited from this book, and in it Bob challenged the quality of my worship.”
—John M. Frame, Reformed Theological Seminary